SassyBlack (Catherine Harris-White) is the cool alto singing half of THEESatisfaction, a cosmically -minded R&B/rap duo from Seattle. In a region traditionally coated in rock band nostalgia, on a label traditionally thick with those very rock bands (Sub Pop), Harris-White and her group of creative cohorts, which include labelmates Shabazz Palaces and Porter Ray, are diversifying the Pacific Northwest's portfolio of hipness.
On her own, White has just released Personal Sunlight, a six-song heat lamp of uplifting #based poetry. The self-produced EP is built on strings of hypnotizing synth loops, conveyor belts of jaunty rhythms and layers of enchanting vocals meant to empower the individual. She brings her sound to Gramps on Friday, July 17 at 10 p.m.
"We all have a light inside of us," she told me recently, regarding the message behind the EP. "I [propose] that we take the time to look deeper into ourselves and find our passion(s). With the proper investment of time we can all shine brightly. Since I have found my passion, I invite everyone to come experience the joy that comes with looking within in hope to inspire them to do the same."
The release's cover image shows Harris-White posing with eyes closed, looking within for light and inspiration. The graphic, as well as the music within, is transcendental in its valuation of the self-sufficient individual. But rather than perceiving the world transparently, she seeks to inspire others to bask in the warmth of their own confidence.
Perhaps empowered by her group's positively-received output, Harris-White has taken the release as an opportunity to explore her more experimental inklings. For each time the singer veers off on a lengthy, existential wondering streak ("What's The Sun WithOut The Rain"), she comes back with a tight dance groove ("Sorry I had to Funk You Up"), or harkens back to early THEESatisfaction material (the "Bisexual"-like "Pull Up To The Funk").
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Overall, Harris-White attributes her looseness at this stage of her career to the strength of her artistic experience.
"After about 18 years of making music, I feel more certain in my sound," she says. "I have been in a variety of bands and vocal groups which has helped me to hone in on my style. When collaborating with other folks, you have to adapt to their way of creating, but on my own I find that the possibilities are endless."
SassyBlack plays at 10 p.m., Friday July 17 at Gramps 176 NW 24th St. Miami. Gramps.com, 305-699-2669. $5.